Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon discusses trends in investment capital for minority women asset managers

Currently, there’s about $70 trillion of capital to manage in the United States, yet only 1% of that capital is managed by women, or people of color despite these groups representing 75% of the US population. This is one of many barriers that prevents and limits access to capital for minority-owned small businesses.

Latina Leaders

Panel 2 Guest Speakers at Latina in Business virtual event: “Latina Small Business Post-Covid: Recovery Resources and Trends.”

During Latina in Business’ virtual panel, “Latina Small Business Post-Covid: Recovery Resources and Trends,” panelists discussed how the pandemic has shifted our relationship with technology. Now more than ever, businesses are relying on digital tools to connect with customers, grow, and thrive. 

We heard from Grow with Google Program Manager, Lucy Pinto, who shared resources and insights on how businesses are using digital resources to expand, grow, and connect. Later, tech entrepreneur, Rosario B. Casas discussed the rapid advancements in tech fueled by the pandemic and identified some key tech trends for business owners and entrepreneurs to tap into. Finally, Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner of Avante Capital, shared trends and insights in regards to access to capital for small, minority owned businesses. 

Trends in capital for minority small business owners and entrepreneurs

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner of Avante Capital. (Photo courtesy Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon)

As Managing Partner at Avante, Ivelisse is responsible for identifying, executing, and managing investment opportunities. Over the last 11 years as managing director, Ivelisse has raised $800 million and has deployed $650 million already to 40 companies. Additionally, Ivelisse is a longtime advocate and champion for women, minorities, and the underserved and underrepresented. She holds leadership roles in several local and national non-profit organizations and even launched a philanthropic organization called We Will with her two sisters, to support and empower underserved women and minorities in the areas of healthcare, education, and financial literacy. 

During the virtual panel, Ivelisse spoke with Latinas in Business Executive Board Member, Pilar Avila, and discussed some of the ways she and Advante Capital are supporting the growth of women businesses and what trends she is seeing. 

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon  17:19  

It’s so nice to be here. I wanted to start first by saying that while $800 million, does sound like a lot of capital, actually, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a drop in the bucket. So just as context, there’s about $70 trillion of capital to manage in the United States, $70 trillion. And only 1% of that capital is managed by women, or people of color. Right. So even though women and people of color represent 75% of the US population, we only manage 1% of the capital. And the result of that is a lot of what we’re talking about today, which is that our communities don’t get access to that capital. 

No, the capital remains in the communities that manage it. And so it’s, it’s a very big issue that’s really obstructed a lot of businesses from growing, right. I’m encouraged because I feel like in the last year, a lot of our challenges in the country, a lot of our social and racial challenges have created a lot of awareness around it. And there’s a lot more intention and focus around investing in our communities. So there are a lot more options than there used to be. There are a lot more banks, a lot more creative finance companies that are evolving to serve our communities. 

That said, our businesses are still really small. You know, they’re really, really small. And while it’s one, it’s a wonderful place to start, for us to really create wealth and to create change and growth in our communities, we have to build them bigger, right, they have to get bigger…Because there’s no difference between us and companies that are larger. I mean, I look at these companies all the time and I think: We can manage these businesses. We can be the CEO, we can be the CFO. 

Pilar Avila  19:28  

We are the capital, right? We hired the talent. We know we have talent, too.

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon  19:33  

We have talent too, exactly. So I think that that’s what we’ve been really committed to at Avante, which is not only supporting women and people of color managing businesses but really trying to get women and people of color into this industry to manage capital, so that we can go out and find entrepreneurs from our communities and help them grow. Because if there’s not any people in my seat that look like us, our people are never gonna get capital. 

Pilar Avila  20:16  

Have you seen particular trends in the extraordinary growth in certain industries or certain types of products or services that we should be aware of whether we have a company in that sector? Or maybe our companies can move into those services?

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon  20:41  

It’s a great question, Pilar, because, you know, when you go to look to see, where are many of the companies owned by women, people of color, they tend to be in a lot of service industries. Right. And I think that there are so many opportunities in other industries that have larger scale opportunities, healthcare, for instance, technology, Business Services, engineering,  we’re just as capable. But for some reason, we haven’t really moved into those industries and not in a larger way. And so I think, people who are doctors or nurses or engineers or computer engineers, starting businesses in those fields, you can gain a lot of scale, you could really grow quickly and be large.

Pilar Avila  21:28  

Continue to place a lot of emphasis on STEM, right, at every level of education. And once you have the education, and maybe get some experience under your belt, the large companies come out and start the businesses. 

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Taking advantage of resources and opportunities to grow 

Pilar Avila  27:21  

So what would you recommend to our small businesses, micro businesses between you know, 250,000, half a million to 5 million, to do to really apply best practices for the organization, finances, to be prepared to present themselves in the best light to obtain loans, investments, strategic partners and really grow into multimillion dollar enterprises. What do we need to do? How do we need to present ourselves and prepare?

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon  28:03  

I think that the best thing to do is to find mentors and people that have done it before, that can really help you walk through the process. Because it is complicated. There are a lot of different things that banks want to see. And we had panels earlier that also had access to resources. There’s a lot of resources out there, right, and we should utilize them. But the key is to understand that there’s a lot of capital now available. You know, where I wouldn’t have said this 10 years ago, I think that there’s a lot of capital, if you’ve got a good idea, if you got a good business, if you’re a growth brand, you can get access to capital at this point in our country’s history. And you can grow and you should do it.

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